car can't pass smog

mrlee33mrlee33 Member Posts: 1
edited April 2014 in Honda
i have a 88 honda accord. it is all stock.
i failed the smog check recently. the problem was excessive tailpipe gas what is the problem? could it be because i haven't changed my oil for over a year?


  • larryn2larryn2 Member Posts: 18
    well if you haven't changed your oil you probily haven changed your air filter or plugs ,cap. rotor,plug wires ether A GOOD TUNE UP SOUNDS LIKE WHAT YOU NEED !!!!! (ANY CHECK ENGEN LIES)
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,481
    If an engine fails the smog test, there is either improper combustion or improper exhaust-gas cleaning by the catalytic converter. You need to tune the car and change the air filter for starters, and then see what happens after that....these are the obvious things to look for. If that doesn't work, they you have to start hunting.
  • alcanalcan Member Posts: 2,550
    The oil should be changed, in addition to what's been mentioned. It will contain unburned hydrocarbons from combustion blowby that might fail the car for high HC.
  • isellhondasisellhondas Member Posts: 20,342
    My guess would be a car that has gone a YEAR without an oil change has probably been neglected in other ways as well.

    With that in mind, it's no surprise that it flunked the smog test.
  • alcanalcan Member Posts: 2,550
    Ignore the rhetoric. Do what's been suggested here. Have a complete tuneup including PCV valve, air and fuel filters, have the EGR system checked, and have the oil and filter changed. Btw, do you have the emission gas level numbers available from the last test? Is CA. using the ASM 25/25 test?
  • burdawgburdawg Member Posts: 1,524
    It depends on where the car is registered in the state. LA/Orange counties, parts of San Diego area, parts of Bay area use dynamometer test. Other areas use the stationary two rpm test. A little known fact is that some rural counties only require smog test upon registration transfer. I looked at a web site recently (can't remember if was DMV or CARB) because my 95 Grand Am needed a test for registration. There was a map of what requirements covered what area. My daughter has the car at UC Santa Barbara and had to go to Ventura (LA county) to get the right test based on registration.
  • burdawgburdawg Member Posts: 1,524
    I'm sorry, of course Ventura is in Ventura County, and I should of included it with the areas that require dynamometer test.
  • alcanalcan Member Posts: 2,550
    Burdawg, that's interesting info. I didn't know that emission testing varied in CA, especially getting tested relative to where the car's registered. I'd just assumed that all of CA had the same (as in toughest) testing in the U.S. Thanks for the info.
  • isellhondasisellhondas Member Posts: 20,342
    Living in Californai that most smog inspection stations had a bunch of small shops nearby that fixed the problems. Some of these guys operated out of vans and waved signs at the cars that were departing the inspection stations.

    GUARANTEE TO PASS - 19.95 OR LESS !!!!

    Or something similar. Now, I'm sure some if not most of these shops were pretty fly by night. They would do the bare minimum required to make the car pass but you WOULD pass.

    Throwing a bunch of tune up parts at a car that may or not be needed would be another approach. Even then, the actual problem could well be missed.
  • hicairahicaira Member Posts: 276
    But now the most populated counties, representing something like 93% of all CA drivers, have the dyno test that is MUCH harder to trick. The old static test (every two years statewide) was a tailpipe emission test done at idle and something like 2000 RPM. Most cars could be made to temporarily pass that test and a bit of a fly by night operation in "shops" who "Tuned" for the test was the result.

    The Dyno test (Every three years for cars registered in more populated counties) is much harder to trick and more difficult to perform. Still, a moderately well maintained car of late vintage will almost always pass. When I last had it done the tech said that he had yet to see a single post 1990 Honda or Toyota fail that had not been modified or completely trashed by its owner.

  • burdawgburdawg Member Posts: 1,524

    The above will take you to a quick overview of what is required. The first bi-annual test on new cars is waived, so the first test is when it's four years old. Funny though, check your registration renewal-you still get charged a "smog abatement fee" even if the test is waived! That's California, folks!

  • burdawgburdawg Member Posts: 1,524
    Read the section about definitions of "gross polluters". Our 20 year old Mercedes 280SE is considered a "potential" gross polluter, so we have had to take it to a test only center twice. It has never even come close to failing. It falls in the 15% "likely gross polluters". After twisting enough arms I found that this is based on the age, not the model history.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,481
    A fuel injected car, even an old one like yours, is less likely to be a gross polluter as it ages, I think. In Calif. , it's the old carburated cars that are having trouble passing smog.
  • alcanalcan Member Posts: 2,550
    I went into the CARB site and did some looking around. Same info as in the site you linked. Interesting stuff. We've only been doing smog testing here for a short time, and it's currently limited to the high vehicle density areas (Toronto, Hamilton, etc). Will be expanding eventually to include more areas as Tier 2 emission regulations click in. Btw, as of 5 years ago the most heavily travelled road in North America was the LA Freeway. Second was Highway 401 across the top of Toronto. Cough...wheeze.... LOL
  • ls1v8ls1v8 Member Posts: 34
    My HC-ppm were way out of wack on my 87 TPI Firebird. Changed egr. Advanced the timing. Retarded the timing. Cat was a year old. I was getting PO'd when a snake oil saleman recomended a sure fix.

    Dag gum if it didn't work and I passed the test!! Almost any person with even the smallest bit of Shadetree mechanic in him/her could do it.

    Send $19.95 to ls1v8 at.......:)
  • isellhondasisellhondas Member Posts: 20,342
    We moved from California 15 years ago so I didn't know about the changes. I'm not surprised.

    Still, those quick fix guys didn't necessarilly pull any "tricks" in order to get the cars to pass. These guys were pretty adapt at putting their finger on the actual problem that was causing the cars to flunk. If the car had a couple of bad plug wires that were misfiring and causing the car to fail, those wires (and ONLY those wires) would be replaced.

    Just a down and dirty, ie, cheap way to pass the smog test that worked.

    On the other end of that spectrum, other shops would throw a lot of expensive and somtimes unnecessary tune up parts at the car to solve the problem.
  • hicairahicaira Member Posts: 276
    Had (still do in fact) a 67 Merc Cougar. 289 Super. Modified exhaust (Headers and free flow), Holly perf. carb and after market cams, lifters and rockers. 275 HP with the two barrel and probably close to 325 with the 4 bbl. Needless to say, it failed (once, when it was not yet exempt). "Mechanic" (I use that term loosly) said for $20 he could make it pass. He tinkers with the carb making the thing run so lean that I had to hold the gas pedal in position just to maintain idle. So it now passes, barely. I re-park the gasping beast and he re-tinkers the carb to get back to proper running order. Off I went with smog cert in hand.

    Still have that last print-out. PPMs for CO and NO2 are over 150 times that of my V8 Landcruiser! And that was a pass!

    Anyone want a 67 Cougar? Its exempt now (due to age). I feel too guilty to drive it anymore.

  • isellhondasisellhondas Member Posts: 20,342
    It was once decreed that all 1966-1970 (I think) cars had to have a NOX devise installed.

    The shop I managed installed the version that went into the upper radiator hose. I remember they cut off the vacuum advance unless the car was ready to overheat.

    These were a micky mouse "solution" that made the cars run like crap.

    I'm sure the majority of people unhooked these miserable things as soon as they got home.

    Don't feel guilty about driving your Cougar! There are so few polluters like that left on the road that it wouldn't amount to a hill of beans.
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